Research – alwaystired

Dangerous High School Start-Times

The schools we put our trust and money into are actively harming our children. They are doing so by beginning in the early hours of the morning, damaging their cognition and causing them to perform poorly in terms of academics. We expect adolescents to be at their peak levels of focus and determination for seven hours a day, forced to function with less than their recommended amount of rest. Whether their parents put pressure on them or they have goals for a successful future, grades are the most important factor in many teenagers’ lives. Though, learning requires memorization and comprehension – two skills weakened by sleep deprivation. Only a few hours of extra sleep completely change the trajectory of a teenager’s life, nevertheless, schools are reluctant to make this change and begin at later hours. 

A lack of sleep is directly associated with mental and physical defects. Among these is insomnia, where falling asleep and waking up feels like an impossible challenge. Adolescence is a significant period of growth for the human brain. The longer one’s rest is interrupted, the more issues they begin to experience, much like Ellen S. Bruce mentioned in her article Sleep in Adolescents and Young Adults, when stating, “An early indication of patients developing problems with their sleep can be sleep fragmentation, where individuals have difficulty remaining asleep, resulting in them feeling unrefreshed.” Waking up at five in the morning would be extremely harmful to somebody who fell asleep at three. An inadequate sleep cycle curses children with illnesses that follow them into adulthood. Once their decline in health linked to sleep deficiency is set into motion, it only worsens from there. With that said, insomnia is the gateway to other sicknesses.

In their clinical review titled Sleep Disorders in Children and Adolescents, Suresh Kotagal and Paul Pianosi list examples of illnesses they are at risk for, including, “delayed sleep phase syndrome, narcolepsy, depression, anxiety, and restless leg syndrome.” Disorders like these call for medical attention to cure which is very time-consuming. Not to mention, the hardships that accompany them result in even fewer hours of sleep, launching a person into a downward spiral. These illnesses often become the focus of their victims’ existences and their consequences never truly disappear. If sleep-related disorders are prevented from their origin, teenagers will acquire more time to focus on their grades as well as get their lives together. Fixing these issues is the key to enhancing adolescents’ quality of life.

Low levels of sleep at night also result in poor moods and fatigue throughout teenagers’ days at school. Students will lose their motivation to learn as teachers are difficult to pay attention to and lessons become harder to comprehend. Poor grades will be soon to follow and the build-up of these burdens will entangle them in a lethal cycle of staying up late and waking up early.

Memorizing information is a gigantic factor in education and depends extremely on healthy sleep habits. Expecting somebody whose school schedule prevents than from obtaining their recommended hours of sleep to perform appropriately, let alone exceptionally, in terms of memory is extremely unreasonable. This is because, as researched by William DS Killgore and stated in his article Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition, “Sleep following learning is important to facilitate the consolidation and integration of newly learned information into existing memory structures,” and therefore a lack of it, “[…] may impair the acquisition of new memories.” The knowledge attained while a person is sleep-deprived will be significantly more difficult for them to retain than it would have been having they arrived properly rested. Chances are, they cannot remember their day at school altogether.

Insomnolence harms the regions of the brain, such as the temporal lobe, that aid in memory processing. Killgore performed a study where he compared a wide-awake bunch of participants’ to an exhausted group’s ability to recall a series of scenic photographs. His findings proved that “the sleep-deprived group showed significantly less activation of the posterior hippocampus relative to the normally rested group.” If a majority of high school students are dozing off, their minds are not working properly. Many children are incapable of going to bed at suitable times to guarantee they receive their recommended hours of sleep, whether this is because of sports, family issues, anxiety, or other deliberating priorities, therefore they are at an unfair disadvantage. Their grades are not accurate representations of their intelligence if they are not reflecting their full potential.

Staying awake throughout the late hours of the night is beyond the control of teenagers who want nothing more than to succeed in their classes and assure they will live fulfilling futures. Instead, they are biologically prone to it which clashes with the early times most high schools begin. In her journal entry, The challenges of adolescent sleep, Gaby Illingworth describes how living creatures’ circadian pacemakers shift later the more puberty progresses. “The delay is observable at a behavioral level through an individual’s ‘chronotype’, referring to their preferred sleep/wake timing,” she reveals, “Adolescents, with a tendency to sleep late and to wake late, are described as having an ‘evening chronotype.’” When one obtains this specific chronotype, the times they choose to stay up until on the weekends are more reflective of the time their body prefers. Often, this is late into the night. Because this is how their bodies work, expecting them to go to sleep earlier is pointless. Since we center schools around children, we should form policies according to how teenage brains function.

The same technology that prevents students from drifting to sleep is becoming essential in order to live a normal life. In the research essay written by a large group of authors titled What’s Keeping Teenagers Up? Prebedtime Behaviors and Actigraphy-Assessed Sleep Over School and Vacation, it is mentioned that “those with access [to technology] in bedrooms use these devices more and have later BT and shorter total sleep time on weekdays,” when compared to children who did not. Many would assume that the simple solution would be to prevent them from texting or watching television completely. Though, because most children are members of social media platforms and various group chats, teenagers without phones are alienated from their peers. It is unethical to force them to choose between their academic and social lives, plus beyond school districts’ authority. These facts considered, starting school later in the morning would give them the leeway to use their phones as late as they usually do, as well as get enough sleep at the same time.

While adolescents would prefer to be good students if, given the choice, the unfortunate reality is that many of them belong to unstable families. The stressors occurring in their homes not only serve as a distraction from homework and studying but could also make them even more tired. Highly involved parents would, “motivate their children to higher engagement in their academic,” according to data discovered in a study conducted by Yun Mo and Kusum Singh, but people with less attentive parents may have no choice but to do excessive amounts of cleaning around the house, have to babysit their siblings, or deal with emotional damage after the school day is over. Delaying the beginning of classes by a couple of hours would allow them to stay up as late as they usually have to finish their homework, while simultaneously supplying them with enough time to rest. School districts must consider how their schedules affect every student of theirs and that an early-morning rise may not be beneficial to those who are struggling.

Children are not the only people who have to wake up before sunrise and attend school day after day. Teachers, office workers, and other educational staff members have to arrive even earlier than their students. Because of this, we should wonder how later school starting and ending times would affect them, and if the consequences would be positive or negative.

It is important to keep in mind that teachers, office workers, and other educational staff members are expected to arrive even earlier than their students. Naturally, we should question if starting school later in the day would affect them positively or negatively. Members of the Oxford Academy conducted a study around this manner, titling their results Impact of Changing School Starting Times on Teachers/Staff. This experiment compared an elementary school starting earlier in the day than they previously had to middle and high schools in the same district beginning later.

Educators who taught the two older grade levels took advantage of the opportunity to receive more rest, reporting later wake-up times and increased total hours of sleep. In contrast, there was no change in the amount of rest elementary school teachers obtained. Though, they reported feeling less prepared to start their day. On the contrary, middle and high school staff experienced a decrease in daytime sleepiness. There was a clear difference between the outcomes of the study on schools beginning later and earlier.

All research considered, starting school later in the morning would be extremely beneficial to both students and staff. Not only would the attentiveness and energy of teenagers be heightened, but the quality of teaching would skyrocket. Professors would be motivated to put their full potential into their lessons, as well as begin the day by greeting their students in an upbeat manner. Because they would be able to pay more attention to each individual member of their classroom, they would gain the chance to address any problems with efficiency. In turn, students would be less reluctant to learn, leading to an increase in productivity for everyone involved.

Nothing in the world is perfect and everything has advantages and disadvantages, even an idea as beneficial as delaying school start times. Critics’ concerns are valid, but easy to argue against. The pros outweigh the cons and waking up later in the morning would improve the quality of the lives of adolescents.

A multitude of people argue that the earlier somebody wakes up, the more productive they are. In their minds, attending school at the crack of dawn only strengthens adolescents’ performances. While waking up early may do wonders for a person who sleeps from 9 pm to 5 am’s health, it is inappropriate when applied to teenagers who regularly stay awake until 2 in the morning. Schools do not begin at times that foster success, instead initiating learning times that prevent teenagers from receiving a full eight hours of sleep. Waking up late is only detrimental to one’s well-being when one arises late into the afternoon, but certainly not at nine as opposed to six.

Early-starters also worry that making the shift would minimize the existence of extracurricular activities. Changing the hours of the school day would be a community-wide decision that risks deterring the times of proceedings, including sports, church, and clubs. These are extremely important manners, considering they can make or break a child’s chances of getting into college, so it is crucial we take them into careful deliberation regarding this debate.

While those effects’ fears that the times any events that occur directly after school begins will have to fluctuate are true, they are failing to contemplate the advantages that these later hours will provide students with which last all day. If we do not force them to awaken before the sun rises, they will have more energy to take part in these activities they are members of. Therefore, the results they receive will increase in quality and reward them with more satisfaction and experience.

Maintaining a healthy Circadian Rhythm could lead to increased alertness, performance, and a more efficient core body temperature and metabolism according to Lockley, Foster, and Kelley’s piece Synchronizing education to adolescent biology: ‘let teens sleep, start school later’, which are all factors that contribute to better health and more beneficial life. If teenagers who did after-school activities were at their full-potentials, they would gain more from what they did. For example, if a track runner was not obligated to awaken before receiving a healthy night’s worth of sleep – the recommended sleep time for adolescents – they would without a doubt run quicker in a race than if they had for four hours. With only a whole extra hour of sleep, children in youth groups and church organizations could better process the scriptures conveyed to them and recall them at later points in their lives. Delaying these times would be worth the profit gained from it.

Judith A. Owens, Katherine Belon, and Patricia Moss conducted an experiment where they studied how changing the time school started in a Rhode Island district impacted their students. Their discoveries presented only improvements in efficiency. As stated in their study on the manner, Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior, “The percentage of students reporting participating in sports, homework, and other after-school activities was similarly high at both surveys,” and “the percentage of students rating themselves as at least somewhat unhappy or depressed also decreased significantly.” Not only did more teenagers intensify their comprehension and academic performance by feeling better about themselves and completing their homework, but they were also more likely to join sports and clubs. They will get the chance to make friends through this process and further indulge in their interests when they are awake. These developments give them a stronger shot at getting into colleges and living a joyful and triumphant life.

Many are doubtful that changing the starting times of schools would be for the better because they insist children will stay up even later in response to the alteration. The result would be them getting the same amount of rest as they would have in the first place. This scenario was tested by a large group of researchers in a review titled Sleepmore in Seattle: Later school start times are associated with more sleep and better performance in high school students, who claim that deferring the beginning of classes, “led to a significant lengthening of daily sleep of over half an hour,” which more specifically was “a lengthening in the median daily sleep duration from 6 hours and 50 min to 7 hours and 24 min.” The improved time was closer to the eight hours of sleep a teenager should receive and would lead to them gaining more healthy minds and bodies.

Because students are so exhausted, if they have the chance to spend more time awake at night, they will decline it. Their bodies are used to going to bed at a certain time and they will continue to honor this, or at least fall victim to growing increasingly tired as the hour approaches. Authors Perkinson-Gloor, Lemola, and Grob addressed this issue and tested whether students who started school later received more sleep. Their findings embedded within their article Sleep duration, positive attitude toward life, and academic achievement: The role of daytime tiredness, behavioral persistence, and school start times showed that just a twenty-minute delay in the time school commenced resulted in teenagers getting sixteen extra minutes of sleep. Even an increase as minuscule as this reduced the amounts of daytime tiredness they experienced. They allowed themselves to experience additional rest and, in response, prospered.

A great deal of high-school students are even in support of shifting when school starts with hopes to gain those extra thirty minutes to an hour of shut-eye and waking up feeling ready to take on an entire day of learning and socialization. In attempts to research the link between high-school students who wish to get more sleep compared to the quantity of rest they actually gain, Strauch and Meier found that “the wish for more sleep was very pronounced, varying between 54.3% and 74.5% across the years,” which they revealed in their analysis Sleep need in adolescents: A longitudinal approach. The purpose of schools is to benefit and educate adolescents, so it is counterintuitive that they would not consider their comfort or welfare when manufacturing their policies. Because children feel as if they are feeling unrefreshed throughout the school day following an incomplete night of sleep, guidelines should adjust accordingly.

A slew of benefits overshadows any downside of modifying the hours of high schools across the country teenagers will receive from the conversion. Children are prone to staying up at night for many reasons, from sorting out their family issues to bonding with their peers online, that are out of their school district’s hands. The human brain requires a satisfactory amount of rest to function properly. So many adolescents today are damaging their mental-processing skills in an attempt to abide by schools’ unreasonable wake-up policies. Every aspect of their life would improve. Their grades would skyrocket due to better mental and physical health, more motivation to learn, and better quality teachers. Those who already participate in sports improve at them while those who are too sleepy to attend after-school activities are more likely to sign up. Every person in the building would start their days feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the next few hours without sleepiness clouding their minds and preventing them from exerting their full effort. Overall, the change leads to happier lives for high-school students, and it is unfair that we are holding them back from this because of a few doubts that are easily disproved.


Bruce, E. S., Lunt, L., & McDonagh, J. E. (2018). Sleep in adolescents and young adults. Clinical Medicine

Das-Friebel, A., Gkiouleka, A., Grob, A., & Lemola, S. (2020). Effects of a 20 minutes delay in school start time on bed and wake up times, daytime tiredness, behavioral persistence, and positive attitude towards life in adolescents. Sleep Medicine, 66, 103–109.

Dunster, Gideon P., et al. “Sleepmore in Seattle: Later School Start Times Are Associated with More Sleep and Better Performance in High School Students.” Science Advances, vol. 4, no. 12, 2018

Fitzpatrick, J. M., Silva, G. E., & Vana, K. D. (2020). Perceived barriers and facilitating factors in implementing delayed school start times to improve adolescent sleep patterns. Journal of School Health, 91(2), 94–101.

Harbard, Emily, et al. “What’s Keeping Teenagers up? Prebedtime Behaviors and Actigraphy-Assessed Sleep over School and Vacation.” Journal of Adolescent Health, vol. 58, no. 4, 2016, pp. 426–432.

Hudson Walters, P. (2002). Sleep, the athlete, and performance. Strength and Conditioning Journal, 24(2), 17.

Kelley, Paul, et al. “Synchronizing Education to Adolescent Biology: ‘Let Teens Sleep, Start School Later.’” Learning, Media and Technology, vol. 40, no. 2, 2014, pp. 210–226.

Killgore, William D.S. “Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Cognition.” Progress in Brain Research, 2010, pp. 105–129.

Kotagal S, Pianosi P. (2006). Sleep disorders in children and adolescents BMJ; 332 :828

Mo, Yun, and Kusum Singh. “Parents’ Relationships and Involvement: Effects on Students’ School Engagement and Performance.” RMLE Online, vol. 31, no. 10, 2008, pp. 1–11.

Owens, Judith A., et al. “Impact of Delaying School Start Time on Adolescent Sleep, Mood, and Behavior.” Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, vol. 164, no. 7, 2010

Plog, A. E., McNally, J., Wahlstrom, K. L., & Meltzer, L. J. (2019). 0207 Impact of changing school start times on teachers/staff. Sleep, 42(Supplement_1). 
Strauch, I., & Meier, B. (1988). Sleep needs in adolescents: A longitudinal approach. Sleep, 11(4), 378–386.

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3 Responses to Research – alwaystired

  1. alwaystired247 says:

    This isn’t even close to finished and I have so much to update and add. Right now it’s pretty much just my three smaller essays put together, but I’m going to start working on combining them more smoothly and moving paragraphs around until it makes sense. I want to add some more of the feedback you gave me into them as well and use it to make my essay stronger and my points more credible. I worked on some of that tonight before I made the Research document but I definitely have a lot more to do. I want to make all the changes you suggested before I reply to the feedback on the other essays though, so I know what’s left that I need help with. Thank you so much for your help on all of these papers. Your feedback is really helping me better understand how to write a research paper since this is my first time putting this much effort into one.

    • davidbdale says:

      You’re welcome of course, AT. I feel privileged to work with students who sincerely want to improve, and you’ve come so far already. I take it you’re asking me to hold off on feedback until you’ve had a chance to do some work yourself. When that changes, I’ll be happy to take another look.

  2. davidbdale says:

    I’ve come back to congratulate you on the immense effort you’ve put into revisions on this essay since you posted it, AT. Of course, I could always provide more feedback, but you could easily rest on what you’ve done so far. I’ve seen the reorganization, the active verbs replacing passive verbs, the powerful introduction. It’s all very impressive. I shouldn’t thank you for taking your work seriously, but I do thank you for making me feel the time I devoted to providing you feedback was well spent.

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